Amidst all the bad news about Afghanistan, stories of hope have emerged. One such story centers on Zak Khogyani, who fled Afghanistan when he was a child. Now a United Airlines pilot, Khogyani had a unique opportunity to aid the Afghan rescue by ferrying refugees from Germany to the USA while simultaneously serving as a translator onboard.
United Pilot Who Fled Afghanistan As A Child Now Aiding In Rescue Effort
Khogyani breaks down as he shares part of his story, which takes on a strange sense of deja vu considering he fled Kabul when he was only nine years old.
First Officer Zak K. lived in Afghanistan until he was nine and was one of 8,000 United employees who volunteered to work international missions as directed by the Department of Defense. He recorded this video en route to help U.S. civilians and Afghan evacuees. pic.twitter.com/jwypqlkm5w
— United Airlines (@united) August 27, 2021
“We just landed in Ramstein, Germany. I’m already getting pretty emotion and choked up in anticipation of facing our passengers because I know what an arduous and difficult journey they have endured and the uncertainty taht they face and the pain of leaving loved ones behind. So, I’m just going to have to pull myself together and focus on the mission and the mission is to get them as safety and as comfortably to their new homes.”
When the Civil Reserve Air Fleet was activated, Khogyani quickly volunteered along with 8,000+ other United employees. He saw this as an opportunity to serve his original country and his adapted country, both of which he loves. But not only did he have a unique history, but a unique ability – the ability to speak Pashto, the second-most commonly spoken language in Afghanistan behind Dari.
His language skills helped Afghan refugees onboard United flights to feel more comfortable, safer, and more welcome.
Khogyani also appeared on NBC News, providing more details about his background and a plea for all of us to treat the newly-arrived refugees with kindness and empathy.
During a time in which it is easy (and reasonable) to focus on the overflow of bad news, stories like this are refreshing. Thank you First Officer Khogyani for your service and adding a bright spot to a torrent of bad news.
image: United Airlines